454. Europa

I make no secret of the fact that I don’t really like Lars von Trier. (See my entry for Antichrist.) So I was wary of watching EUROPA, one of his earlier works—and pleasantly surprised when I actually enjoyed it. The story follows an American pacifist who has decided to take work in post-WWII Germany, of all places, as a sleeping car conductor. He falls in love with the railway magnate’s daughter, and soon finds himself embroiled in violent, political events that force him into choosing a side. It’s a passable plot made exponentially more interesting with the film’s beautiful cinematography. The visuals seem borrowed straight out of classic Hollywood and then deconstructed, so that color mixes with black and white, characters interact with their projected backdrops, and the romantic railroad setting suddenly feels dirty and claustrophobic. Add to that Max von Sydow’s disembodied voice implying that the whole thing is simply a hypnotist’s suggestion, and the end result is something strange, beautiful, and—compared to other von Trier films—sort of fun.

europa

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3 comments

  1. Welcome back, Michele. Haven’t heard from you in awhile. I’m not so much a fan of post-Dogville Von Trier, but I love his 90s work, especially Breaking the Waves. Haven’t seen Europa, but you’ve convinced me. Excellent print, btw.

    1. Yeah, I’ve been falling a bit behind my self-imposed schedule. I’ll say that BREAKING THE WAVES was good, but it has a bit too much female misery for my tastes. EUROPA is probably the first von Trier film that I’ve actually found enjoyable.

      1. Female misery seems to be Von Trier’s thing. I’m not crazy about it either, but at least with BREAKING THE WAVES, there is a positive spin since Beth is the most righteous of the characters. Sometimes I get tired of it, which is why I haven’t touched his recent films. It sounds like going backward to EUROPA is a better idea.

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